Contents Foreword by Steven Cox 6 Introduction 8
Research: Areas to Investigate 12
Colour: the ever-changing palette of fashion 16 + Sketchbook task: word association with colour palettes 24 + Sketchbook task: colour swap 26 + Silhouette: the shape of fashion 28 + Sketchbook task: 3-D-2-D-3-D. 34 + Sketchbook task: inkblots: what do YOU see?. 36 + Line and balance: establishing the visual equilibrium 38 + Sketchbook task: reflecting on symmetry 46 + Sketchbook task: keep it simple: 60-second Constructivist fashion 48 + Shape, form and texture: the fabric of fashion 50 + Popular fashion fabrics 52 + Sketchbook task: ready-to-wear: paper fashion 54 + Sketchbook task: multiple fashion 56 + Showcase 1 58
Investigation: Where to Find Your Reference 62
Primary sources: ‘Wish you were here!’: cultural awareness 64 + Learning to look: observational drawing 68 + Looking beyond the past: museums 72 + The here and now: the natural world and the urban environment 76 + Secondary sources: style on the screen: cinema and television 80 + On the shelf: libraries, books and journals 84 + ‘Cross my palm with silver …’: forecasting the future of fashion 88 + Riffing the fashion information highway: the www and blogosphere 92 + Sketchbook task: style roots: discover your own fashion past 94 + Sketchbook task: prescriptive stitch 96 + Showcase 2 98
Visual Thinking: Evaluation and Appraisal 102
Connecting the unconnected: mind mapping 104 + The shape of change: collage 106 + Disruption to order: juxtaposition 112 + The art of reinvention: deconstruction 118 + ‘Once upon a time …’: using a fashion concept 122 + The bigger picture: putting it into context 126 + Sketchbook task: deconstruct/ reconstruct. 132 + Sketchbook task: blind contour: drawing without looking 134 + Showcase 3 136
Design Direction: Who, Where and When? 140
The market sector 141 + Haute couture (the crème-de-la-crème of dressmaking) 142 + Ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter) 144 + Mass market (mainstream) fashion 146 + Value fashion (cheap chic) 148 + Target customer 150 + Shop report 152 + The fashion calendar: knowing when and where 154 + Sketchbook task: nature knows best: harvesting your own seasonal colour palette 156 + Sketchbook Task: creating on-trend alphabets 158 + Showcase 4 160
Design Development: Switching On Your Creativity 164 Personality and identity 168 + Hybrids 170 + Core items 172 + Prototypes 174 + Fabrication 176 + The line-up: decision time 178 + Showcase 5 186 Checklist 190 Contact Details 191
Foreword On my Foundation Course at Hertfordshire College of Art and Design in 1987 I encountered the idea of a sketchbook for the very first time. Up until then I never gave a sketchbook a second thought – perhaps I had never heard of one. I was never a child who drew, sketched or was encouraged to do so. The idea of a sketchbook was so new to me and I had no idea of how important it was to become for the rest of my life. My tutors on Foundation were always going on about how I had to have a sketchbook – how it would form my ideas and give me a place to put everything down. Being young and 18 and not really wanting to do anything, I didn’t keep a sketchbook throughout the year. I was not alone – many of my fellow students just didn’t do it. We rebelled. We just wanted to do large-scale paintings and sculptures. Towards the end of my Foundation Course we were required to present our work. Each student had their own booth where we set up our finished artwork, portfolios, sketches and photographs. Our tutors told us we were also required to display the 10–12 sketchbooks that we had been keeping throughout the year. I thought ‘F**k! I only have one sketch book half full!’. So, in order to fulfill the requirements, I began what was to be one of the most intense experiences of my student life. I sketched, I added paint, dirt, pieces of paper, glue, seeds, fish heads, footprints, potato prints, photos, etchings – even a doll’s head. I sketched with my left hand and I sketched with my right hand. At the end of the week I had finished my sketchbooks – all 12, filled to the brim, busting at the seams, overflowing with ideas with everything I could think of – appropriate or otherwise. But something kind of magical happened along the way. I learned the importance of the sketchbook and how significant it is to my process of designing. Today, over 20 years later, I’m always working in five to six sketchbooks at any one time. They are always with me – they go where I go. I sketch a lot while travelling, especially while flying. Time is suspended when I’m flying and it’s easy for me to let my imagination open up. Many of the collections for Duckie Brown have started on the 8am flight from New York to London. For Duckie Brown, each season is formulated in a Moleskine plain paper sketchbook – they are easy to carry and I can take them everywhere. For the last eleven years – that’s 22 collections – each one has started with writing in my sketchbook. Writing has become very important to my process, though it never was at school. I’m not a writer – that’s not my strength. I write words down first – the words express what I see in my imagination. I write down what I think the collection is about. Every collection is always based on the lives we lead and what is around us at that moment. So there are the words, and these lead to my ideas … and from there comes the first sketches and the collection starts to take form. What come first are always my bad sketches and I’ve learned that’s fine. I only do a sketchbook for one person, and one person only, and that’s me. I show very few people my sketchbooks. As the sketches progress, they become more specific and eventually the sketches become what the collection will look like. It doesn’t happen by magic. I might do ten or 20 or 100 sketches before I hit the right one – the one I know it feels right – and then I know I’m on to something and I can see where the collection is going. I’m on a roll. I have a clear vision. My sketches are quick and very loose. From there I
enlarge the best sketches from my sketchbook and trace over them with a pencil on to a Bienfang marker sketchbook and the process of the finished fashion illustrations begins. Once that’s done they go up on the wall to inform everything we do for that season’s collection. Often my sketches are done almost like a run of the show but in sketch form. At the same time the fabrics are being ordered and when delivered I lean them up against the sketches. Most recently I’ve started to do collage work with my sketches. I place fabric on the sketches and so they become complete looks. Everyone has to find their version of what a sketchbook means for them. It’s so very personal. No one can tell you how to do it – you really have to discover it for yourself. But when you do – it’s magic. Below: Rosa Ng (2011)
Steven Cox New York City, 2012
Introduction Designer + sketchbook = BFF (Best Friends Forever) In an age of smart phones and iPads it might appear out of kilter for contemporary fashion creatives still to cling to a physical journal or sketchbook in which to assemble their thoughts and ideas. It is like continuing to work in pounds, shillings and pence when everyone else has moved over to decimal currency. Yet for most, if it came to the burningbuilding test, it is always these very items that they would rescue at all costs. Why? What is it that makes these throwbacks to pre-digital climes so valuable in an age where information is literally at one’s fingertips? At face value these books can look like a riot of unrelated scraps of visual DNA that seem to be bursting – often quite literally – out of the confines of the actual pages of the book. There isn’t anything to anchor the sketchbook to a uniform appearance. They can vary in size from small pocketbook Moleskines through to ‘My sketchbook is a witness
bulky A2 dimensions. They can be pre-bought or self-manufactured. Some designers prefer
of what I am experiencing,
to work on single pages and assemble them at a later date. Others might regard the name
scribbling things whenever
‘sketchbook’ as something of a misnomer, since the contents far exceed the traditional idea
of a book primarily filled with sketches or drawings. In fact, they are also known under other
Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
labels: logbooks, visual journals, dossiers, handbooks, design diaries, creative-process journals, notebooks, scrapbooks and thinking books. This diversity in both the appearance and name for a sketchbook is a pointer to its very personal nature and identity.
On first acquaintance the contents of a sketchbook can appear more like palmistry and you’d need a fortune-teller to interpret their meaning. By default each designer will have employed his or her own unique personal language, using a private vocabulary that usually comes across as more intuitive than planned. However, don’t judge a fashion sketchbook by its cover! Despite their initial dense appearance, these books are capable of representing the considered and selected visual articulation of each designer’s thoughts and intentions. This is where a designer collates information that will eventually point the way through a design task towards an exciting and innovative conclusion. They are industriously assembled, using layer after layer of assorted nuggets of information that are often only recognized as potentially valuable by the designer. They don’t necessarily adhere to a strict pattern of purpose, and although every page will be important, they will not necessarily be in any sequential order. They permit all manner of self-indulgent tendencies that would be frowned upon elsewhere. Sketchbooks are places where mistakes can and should be made. They need Left Jade Elizabeth Hannam (2012) Opposite Hannah Dowds (2010– 12)
Sketchbook task ‘Without aesthetic, design is either the humdrum repetition of familiar clichés or a wild scramble for novelty.’ Paul Rand (1914–96)
Reflecting on symmetry The symmetry and balance of the body is often difficult to block out when you begin to design garments. The vertical axis of the skeleton, and the balance of its left and right distribution, is a subconscious template trap that can inhibit you from experimenting away from the equilibrium of the human physique. This exercise will make you investigate an alternative linear balance that doesn’t reply upon human symmetry for its aesthetic appeal. By transferring lines that appear in the environment into your sketchbook you will be able to assemble unconventional skeletons that provide an alternative basis for your eventual garment designs. 1. You need to equip yourself with a camera before setting out to track down evidence of man-made lines that have been ‘drawn’ within your immediate urban surroundings. You will not need to stray very far – lines can be seen everywhere in every city environment: road markings, train tracks, scaffolding, wrought, iron gates, etc. You should aim to locate a mix of both curved and straight lines. Lines that cross one another will also provide you with boundaries. Photographically, frame the lines from a variety of unusual angles to assemble a library of interesting linear patterns. The task works best if there is a strong contrast between the lines and their background so that they are easier to pick out. 2. When you return home, print out multiples of your photographs as large as possible. You might want to drain away the colour or boost the contrast so that you are left with bold monochromatic lines. Now, cut out a series of chance shapes from your photographs by following the lines within your photographs. Group these shapes together to generate figurative outlines. Try to reduce the normal vertical and horizontal skeleton by using curved, diagonal, twisted or zigzag alternatives. Exploit both the scale and rhythm of the lines but always make sure that there is a continuous flow of lines throughout the composition to bind everything together. Remember that a line is often described as an elongated dot. Artist Paul Klee (1879–1940) famously added that ‘a line is a dot that went for a walk’. 3. Transfer the results into your sketchbook.
Research: areas to investigate
Below and right Kayleigh Macbeth (2011) ‘Glasgow Palm House’ ‘The Botanic Gardens lies in the West End of Glasgow and is famous for its glass houses. The Kibble Palace is my favourite of the two because of its Art Nouveau curves and shapes. The structure offered me such beautiful lines and shapes. As a fashion designer I am always thinking how these qualities could transform into garments. I cut up sections of the photographs and composed them in a state in which I §could envision new figurative silhouettes.’
Research: areas to investigate
Shape, form and texture: the fabric of fashion ‘What I do is restricted by the cloth and the human body. My job is to
An inherent problem for the fashion designer working with a sketchbook is that, in construction, the design work will move from the 2D page to a 3D shape. A sketchbook page can never replace the tactile awareness of handling fabric and physically fashioning a garment at a full 360º on a dress stand. But that is not its
make that cloth give
purpose. As has already been outlined, a fashion sketchbook is the place to house all
expression to the body’
manner of potential stimulus for future design and to support its eventual transition from paper to 3D form. Most designers use their sketchbooks as their personal
Vivienne Westwood (b. 1941)
sounding board for ideas before physically putting them into practice. At times ideas that work well on paper don’t materialize as successfully in reality. This is often explained by the relaxed nature and privacy of the sketchbook as opposed to the
spotlight exposure of working in the round. However, a fashion designer needs to bridge this divide and feel as confident in 3D as they are in 2D. Ultimately, the building blocks for any designer are the materials used to fully realize the design ideas. For the fashion designer, fabric always sits at the heart of the creative practice. Fabric choice is crucial and is judged to be a make-or-break decision. Selecting the correct fabric is vital because it acts as the medium that anchors the colour and sculpts the silhouette of the garment. It needs careful consideration on several levels because all fabric structures have their own inherent properties that can be used to assist in the construction of volume and shape.
Below left Hâf Evans (2012) Below right Rosa Ng (2011) As well as archiving fabric sources your fashion sketchbook needs to act as a repository for shape experiments using 3-D texture.
Research: areas to investigate
Above Tiffany Baron (2012) Technology has widened the fabric library for the fashion designer and impacted upon the tools that are used to achieve shape and texture.
Stretch fabrics like Lycra and jersey will cling to the body and
creation of a desired form. Fabric can be sculpted in various ways
enhance a natural contour, whereas stiffer and less elastic fabrics
to build up a required shape (darting, draping, pleating, etc.) and
like a duck canvas or linen, are capable of sculpting and holding a
structures can be put in place to underpin the shaping (padding,
stronger outline away from the figure. The texture of a given fabric
canvas, boning, etc.). Fabric also lends itself to being embellished
will also influence how the colour will appear. A fine, transparent
with surface pattern or decoration to enhance the shape and form
material like chiffon or organdie will mute the palette while shiny
as well as intensifying the aesthetic qualities of the garment.
PVC and plastic surfaces will reflect and add a harsh gloss. The texture of a fabric will also impact on how the design lines
Over time, technological advances have continued to augment the traditional fabric library. Nylon, first registered by DuPont in
function within a garment. By using the cross-grain of a woven
1939 as ‘a miracle fiber for women’s stockings’ paved the way
cloth rather than following the straight grain of the selvage, bias
for other synthetic fibres such as Orlon, Dacron and Polyester.
draping can be achieved, while the hard-wearing cotton twill of a
Contemporary sportswear has benefited more than any other type
denim has a stability to support and benefit from multiple lines
of garment from the developments of performance-driven fabrics.
of top-stitching. The weight of a cloth will also dictate the way a
Labels, such a Nike, Inc. have exploited these improvements to
garment hangs or falls away from the body. A coarse tweed or
establish their own individual style and appeal. Triumph launched
loden cloth will remain firm and solid, whereas a lace fabric will
their solar-powered swimwear in 2008, sporting front panels to
collapse in volume without adequate support.
harness enough power to charge an iPod or mobile phone and
In addition to employing the inherent natural properties of any cloth, most fabrics can also be manipulated to facilitate the
Ermenegildo Zegna (1892–1966) used the same smart technology embedded into the neoprene collars of his sk-jacket range.
Research: areas to investigate
Secondary sources Style on the screen: cinema and television ‘I saw Avatar and, like everyone, found it extraordinary. And from there I began thinking of nature and ecology, and the Latin American tropics; and from there it was not very far to Mexico.’ Jean Paul Gaultier
The overlap of fashion with popular mass culture is self-evident. In popular music they even share the same labels (punk, new romantics, grunge, etc.). Cinema and television have had an even more widespread impact upon fashion trends, even outshining those established by the more elite designers of haute couture. It is a profitable area for the researcher to investigate because of fashion’s pronounced
Below Avanti Bidikar (2011) Mumbai’s Hindi-language Bollywood offers a never-ending source of colour and invention for fashion direction.
integration within the mainstream of mass-media entertainment. Weekly interactions with trendy television shows like Dynasty, originally watched during the 1980s through to HBO’s Sex and the City broadcast from the late 1990s until 2004, projected a total fashion image that was quickly adapted by fashionistas (and designers) around the globe. Although it is not unknown for fashion designers to cross over and also work in film: Christian Dior for Alfred Hitchcock’s (1899–1980) Stage Fright (1950); Coco Chanel for Alain Resnais’s (b.1922) Last Year in Marienbad (1961); Ralph Lauren for The Great Gatsby (1974), Giorgio Armani for American Gigolo (1980) and The Untouchables (1987) and Jean Paul Gaultier for The Fifth Element (1997) – cinema prides itself on ‘a private’ coterie of costume designers that instigate their own fashion styles by dressing movie stars. The extravagant evening gowns of Adrian (Adolph Greenberg, 1903–59) at MGM in the 1930s and 1940s (also responsible for the red ruby slippers for The Wizard of Oz), or the more restrained styles of Edith Head (1897– 1981) working over at Paramount and Universal, who was nominated 35 times for Best Costume Design and won eight Academy Awards, are testament to the co-habitation of fashion with film. Jane Fonda’s futuristic Barbarella outfits and Gene Roddenberry’s (1921–91) Star Trek on television made a lasting impact on women’s fashions during the 1960s, while in total contrast, Diane Keaton’s (b.1946) androgynous tomboy look in Annie Hall (1977) styled a look that predominated well into the 1980s. Also in the 1980s, street chic dancewear became the norm due to the popularity of Fame, while Tom Cruise (b.1962) and Keanu Reeves (b.1964) made eyewear the key male fashion accessory following Top Gun (1986) and The Matrix (1999).
Investigation: where to find your reference?
Above and left Fay Millard (2012) Wizard of Oz Hollywood is responsible for providing some of popular cultureâ€™s key icons of the 20th century.
Investigation: where to find your reference?